Hannah Burkhart - NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Season 7 Episode 17

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, RSCC*D and Hannah Burkhart, CSCS
Coaching Podcast January 2024


In this episode of the NSCA Coaching Podcast, we delve into one of the biggest topics in college sports today–Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). Tune in to learn more about this game-changing development and its implications for college athletes. Hannah Burkhart, a graduate student in Sport Science and Coaching Education at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), shares her experience as a student-athlete and brand ambassador. Eric McMahon, the NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, joins her in the discussion to unpack the details of NIL policies, learn about the impact of social media on student-athletes, and uncover potential career benefits of NIL for personal branding. The episode focuses on the journey of the student-athlete towards professional growth. Don't miss out on this crucial discussion–listen now to stay ahead of the curve!

Connect with Hannah on Instagram at: @hannaahnichole or LinkedIn: Hannah Burkhart | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“The NIL is a ton of different opportunities within itself. It has greatly changed college athletics in the last few years. The opportunities arise from showcasing products or services for a brand. A brand can be either local or a major brand.” 4:55

“[The NIL is] definitely is helping. I'm learning the importance of branding yourself. Now that's getting pushed even further with social media. You are your own brand on social media. I'm realizing how important it is to have this cohesive image of yourself projected, so employers or athletes know who they're going to be working with.” 21:05

“With branding, it definitely has made me step back think about my posts specifically, or just how when someone comes on my page, what's their first glance? What is it going to tell them about me? That will help in the long run, especially when I'm out of PT school, and I'm done with my masters, going for those first jobs. How am I portraying myself? So, if someone does find my social media, what do they see? It just helps me think about going forward, how do I want to change as a person? How do I want to portray myself, and that carries over into real life not just social media” 22:20


[00:00:00.46] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:00:04.11] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast season seven episode 17.
[00:00:11.28] With branding, it definitely has made me step back think about my posts specifically or just how when someone comes on my page, what's their first glance. What is it going to tell them about me?
[00:00:23.19] And that will help in the long run, especially like when I'm out of PT school, and I'm done with my master's, going for those first jobs. How am I portraying myself, so if someone does find my social media, what do they see. And then just kind of helps me think about going forward, how do I want to change as a person? How do I want to portray myself? And that carries over into real life, not just social media.
[00:00:47.53] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.
[00:00:58.55] This is the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today's episode takes on a big topic in college sports name, image, and likeness, or NIL. For the first time, college athletes are allowed to receive financial compensation through their name, image, and likeness through marketing and promotions.
[00:01:17.26] Not only that, but soon after the NCAA allowed college athletes to be paid through NIL deals, over 30 states have now passed laws legalizing NIL contracts in K-12 schools. To talk about this, and for the first time, our guest today is a current college athlete, Hannah Burkhart. She's a graduate student on the track team at East Tennessee State University and recently passed her CSCS exam. Hannah, welcome and congratulations.
[00:01:47.69] Hey, Eric, thank you. It's a pleasure to be on the podcast. Super excited to have passed my CSCS and join a body of knowledgeable strength coaches and get them more involved with the NSCA.
[00:01:58.22] Awesome, yeah, no, it's great having you with us. We connected-- we'll get a little bit into this, but we connected over Instagram, actually.
[00:02:06.32] Yep.
[00:02:07.16] - I was seeing some of your NIL posts, and it kind of just spurred this conversation on. So ETSU, it's a school that many in our field associate with strength and conditioning and sports science. How has your experience as a student athlete led you to pursuing your CSCS?
[00:02:23.75] Yeah, so my experience as a student athlete was definitely a large factor in this. Going into college, however, did not know that I yet had a passion in strength and conditioning. But it was lifting with the team, my freshman sophomore year, getting to lifting, I realized that I really enjoyed the training process surrounding lifting outside of just my running training.
[00:02:43.64] In high school, a lot of athletes, we don't really have much experience with lifting yet. So it was college that led me to this. And then as I started to progress more with lifting, I realized I had all these curiosities on how the process worked. I had those same curiosities with running in high school. Always questioning my coaches.
[00:03:00.99] So in the weight room, I began to question why are we doing this exercise here, or why at this time of the season? So I started to research that, looked into what I could do education-wise. And aside from my undergrad and exercise science, realized that ETSU had amazing master's and PhD programs that I, until that point, did not know about.
[00:03:20.92] So I started pursuing that, reached out to some advisors, and actually started my master's in sports science in my last year of undergrad as an accelerated bachelor's to master's. And from there, it's been a great process.
[00:03:33.42] I'm so glad I landed at ETSU. We have the Stones here, which is just absolutely incredible. It's been absolutely incredible. So super glad that I landed here and been pushed in this direction.
[00:03:45.15] Yeah, yeah, Mike and Meg Stone, the program they've built there it's really impressive. And from an academic standpoint, they've pioneered the progression, in a way, from exercise science to sports science within the US and really been vocal in helping the field recognize what that is.
[00:04:07.80] And that's been really central within our delivery of the NSCA sports science credential the last couple years there. We love the Stones. I was just out at the ETSU Coaches College. You were there too.
[00:04:21.96] Yes. But like I said, we met on Instagram. So it's funny how things come together, and sometimes you meet virtually, even though you connect with someone in the same place.
[00:04:33.93] For sure.
[00:04:34.77] So you have some NIL deals. This is outside of being a student athlete. And you were sharing some posts recently to promote a brand. For coaches that maybe don't understand how NIL works, what type of opportunities are you seeing, and how do college athletes pursue NIL deals?
[00:04:54.33] For sure. So NIL, it's a ton of different opportunities within itself. It's greatly changed college athletics in the last few years. The opportunities arise from showcasing products or services for a brand. A brand can be either local or a major brand.
[00:05:09.86] There's also you can host camps, like little signing days stuff like that. So there's a lot more opportunities than people think. And with pursuing these deals, there's a few approaches.
[00:05:21.27] So student athletes can directly reach out to brands, introduce themselves on social media, or through email, some sort of contact, say who they are, why they think they would be a good fit as an ambassador or whatnot with the brand.
[00:05:33.17] Most of the time, however, this doesn't really work. So what's starting to pop up more are agencies such as Postgame or 98Strong. That what they do is, they act as an agency. They go to brands and pull back deals for athletes.
[00:05:48.96] So you create a profile, either on their website or if they have an app, kind of showcases you as an athlete. It pulls in your social medias. You apply for these campaigns. And not every athlete is picked. It's kind of the brands. It's up to the brand. They choose based off the pool who they think would fit well.
[00:06:07.92] But that has, so far, been the better option. I recently have done a deal with CVS Pharmacy actually, which you might think is so random, but it was a pretty simple campaign. It was an Instagram reel, post, and story in exchange for showing their buy online, pickup in store feature.
[00:06:26.40] So for student athletes, it's really a great way to just make some money here and there and fit it into their daily life. Because recording the reel, it was a day in my life reel, so barely took any extra time out of my day than just recording what I was already doing versus going and working somewhere for a few hours.
[00:06:42.66] So opportunity-wise, it's a great way to make $100 here and there. It's not all always these huge deals with companies where you're making $100,000. It's really more. It's been accessible to student athletes, even at a school like ETSU, which is in a major D1.
[00:06:59.44] So just kind of has been, so far, kind of helps take off some financial burdens. We all know that anything we can do to decrease our stress levels, and as student athletes, we have a lot of stress. So anything that just help with our day to day.
[00:07:13.71] And we also sometimes work with products that we already use. So just helping us in that way. Something else that we don't have to buy for our athletic performance. So it's been pretty interesting so far, but it's definitely been changing on a yearly basis, as well. It's adapting and growing.
[00:07:29.05] What's really interesting about what you said is that this is just extra cash for you.
[00:07:35.13] Yes.
[00:07:35.42] And it's not something that-- when we hear about these deals, or we're watching it on ESPN, and you hear about how much money some of these athletes are making, we're thinking, in terms of hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars, but for the majority of student athletes, probably in line with the attention that certain schools and athletes get throughout their college career, it can be a lot more manageable and smaller than that and just something you do on the side.
[00:08:08.04] Yeah.
[00:08:08.13] I know in the strength and conditioning space, we talk a lot about side hustles--
[00:08:12.47] Yes.
[00:08:12.72] --and things that earn a few extra bucks. So you're really seizing the moment. You're in your final year of eligibility. And sometimes that happens. We're hearing about that a little bit more with post-COVID eligibility and things. We're still sort of in that window. So it seems like you're making the most of your situation.
[00:08:33.27] For sure, trying to take advantage of the side hustle, like you said, while it's still present to me. So it's a nice perk of being a student athlete, especially in grad school where a little extra money here and there is really appreciated, especially going into the holidays, oof, so appreciate it right now.
[00:08:48.48] Awesome, so a lot of NIL revolves around social media. And this is something that comes up in the coaching ranks. Social media is prevalent. Do you see any risks for student athletes using social media in this way or just to promote their personal brand or maybe how it impacts the team environment?
[00:09:11.92] I think it can become a problem if you're overfocusing on social media and your development in that way because end of the day, we we're still student athletes. Our schoolwork and how we're progressing, on and off the field or the track, that's still most important. So if athletes are taking too much time just trying to-- all they want to do is make money, then that's where social media can be a hamper.
[00:09:34.30] Comparison on social media is also a big problem. You can look at athletes at other schools and like, oh, well, they're doing all these deals, or this is what their training looks like. Comparing yourself can be a problem. I realize I've ran into that sometimes too, like, well, if I'm not doing what they're doing, am I doing things right?
[00:09:50.89] So at times, I feel like social media, we should step back and focus on ourselves a little bit more and our own journey and our own process. But that's the main issue that I've seen with social media.
[00:10:04.21] I think it's a really mature take on that question to really think about-- to take something on like this, it's a business venture, essentially. And I can speak for myself, but I think a lot of us would think back on our time in college or in graduate school, and there's a level of maturity that has to go with the amount of workload you're taking on.
[00:10:27.28] So if you're going to take this on, as something extra in addition to being a student athlete, getting your master's degree, pursuing a career it's important. It's important to really realize what you're doing. And so this is a really good conversation.
[00:10:43.66] So what rules and policies do you have to follow? This is important for strength coaches who work in athletic departments who maybe don't have to enforce this, but we should really understand what athletes are having to do and the rules they need to follow related to eligibility and compliance.
[00:11:03.55] Yeah, so it's not too difficult. You'll receive a contract from the brand, or you just need some sort of statement that's showing what you're agreeing to and what they're giving to you in exchange. That just needs to be listed out.
[00:11:16.45] And then we use an app called influencer, where we can go and submit the contracts. And most schools have a compliance officer, they might have multiple, that will go through and review those transactions those contracts to make sure there's nothing in the language that could be harming your eligibility or anything like that. Usually, they're fine. But it's just a safety feature we've built into place.
[00:11:37.96] And then also, when we're making content, we're not allowed to wear anything that shows our school's name on it or our gear or be in practice facilities, assuming just due to issues with the logos, just branding with the logos, school logo. So we're not allowed to do that.
[00:11:53.51] So you just have to go off campus somewhere, or if you're on campus, just make sure there's no school logos in the background. It doesn't make things that much more difficult. You just have to be aware of this. Be aware of where you're filming and take any pictures, but not too much of a struggle on top of that.
[00:12:07.84] Yeah, no, it's important. And maybe a layer we don't talk about a lot is protection of the student athlete by the institution. There's obviously some brand and legal aspects to brand rights and those things that maybe a lot of us coaches don't think about or understand.
[00:12:29.41] But when your student athletes are going out in the community around their campuses engaging with brands and companies, maybe the compliance process is a layer of protection that does support the values of the institution in a way.
[00:12:47.07] So that's a good takeaway. And we haven't really heard that a lot. You tend to think of maybe the NCAA or the colleges and universities as pushing back against NIL. But in this way, they've been pretty supportive. So this is really good.
[00:13:04.80] Yeah, they're there for our protection. Something I'll add on top of that real quick is, one of the things with the contracts, they're making sure what we're promoting also doesn't violate any NCAA rules, regulations. For example, some products, if it's like a supplement, they want us to go get it checked to our athletic training room first to make sure there's no banned substances in that product.
[00:13:26.23] So that's something to think about if you're just trying, for example, I try and look for brands that I could possibly work with that are things I'm integrating into my life already, like protein supplements, or energy drinks. But a lot of times, a lot of energy drinks, there's banned substances in the energy drinks.
[00:13:41.57] So they want us to go through and check that with our training room make sure we're not promoting something that we're technically not really supposed to be taking anyways. So that is definitely an added layer of security to make sure we're not violating any rules. So they're there to help us, for sure.
[00:13:58.27] OK, let's talk career a little bit. You're finishing your master's degree. You just passed your CSCS exam. Where do you hope your career will take you in the next few years?
[00:14:08.57] So it's funny. We're talking about strength conditioning, but when I finished my master's program in sports science, I'll actually be starting physical therapy school at ETSU the following spring. I know that kind of seems like a step away.
[00:14:21.31] But growing up, I always wanted to be a physical therapist. And it wasn't until the last few years, that strength conditioning came on my scope. So really decided that I wasn't going to limit myself, and I was going to pursue all of my passions and educate myself further in my passions.
[00:14:37.78] I'm aspiring to be a sports medicine physical therapist. So I still want to be around athletes. And that's where strength conditioning is going to add to my toolkit. For example, I think right now there's a lot of gray area when athletes get to end-stage rehabs, be it a major surgery like ACL, or some other longer stage of rehabilitation, there's a lot of gray area where I think sometimes the rehab programs aren't specific enough to the athlete and the sport they're in.
[00:15:08.04] And this is where knowledge, as a strength coach, being able to perform a needs analysis, know better for that athlete how to get them prepared to actually be 100%. A lot of times they're cleared safety-wise to return to play, but they're not actually capable for their sport demands. So they come back. They're practicing, but they're not at their former level yet.
[00:15:28.22] So really thinking I can help make this process more efficient for athletes having knowledge in both. Aspiring, maybe, like a top-end goal being a performance director at a university, college. Kind of being that joining force between the sports medicine staff strength conditioning staff if I'm working with a few teams myself.
[00:15:49.07] And in the training room, can really provide a model for the other strength coaches and sports medicine staff on how to make our training process more effective, more efficient for our athletes because that's how we're going to set ourselves apart as a university. If our athletes are coming back more than 100%, able to play, and preventing injuries in the first place. So those are my aspirations.
[00:16:11.90] That's great, and it shows really great awareness to where the field is at right now. There's a strong voice for an integrated approach to performance. It's not just health anymore. We know that a healthy athlete may not perform, and you have to take it beyond that just getting back on the field.
[00:16:35.69] That handoff between sports medicine and strength and conditioning is often overlooked but probably the most vital period for that return to performance athlete. We're even starting to hear return to performance, instead of return to play being echoed across the performance side and the sports medicine side, so it's refreshing to hear that.
[00:16:59.42] And it's exciting. It's not uncommon for exercise science students, strength and conditioning students to have physical therapy aspirations. Maybe as a field, we haven't always welcomed that, but I think we're getting better, especially as these performance director roles.
[00:17:15.23] As you mentioned, these more integrative collaborative departments are being formed. There's a lot of opportunity, and it sounds like you have a really great grasp on it. As a student, we talked about maturity a little bit before, what are some of the biggest fears and challenges that strength and conditioning students experience during their college or graduate school years, just as they're thinking about breaking into the coaching and performance world?
[00:17:49.69] Yeah, I think entering strength conditioning, there's a lot of big personalities a bunch of different perspectives out there. So right now, what I'm seeing is, at times, I get a little overwhelmed, even, with how many perspectives there are out there. Because I'm learning one thing in the classroom, but there's always different contexts, always different applications to where I have to be able to adapt what I know.
[00:18:12.74] And I'm learning that I have to really open up my perspectives right now. And that can be scary. You kind of get stuck in, oh, this is the way I'm doing things. This is the way I'm programming for my athletes. And then you kind of fall back, and you realize, I need to understand more full picture. I need to understand what's best for my athletes.
[00:18:30.46] So for me, it's honestly, the opposite of having ego problems going in. It's more so like I have a fear of being incompetent, due to seeing everyone else around me and how much I perceive that they know. And I want to be on the same level as these other strength coaches, but they just have a different perspective.
[00:18:49.41] So to me, they appear to know so much more. but it's because they're looking at it with a different perspective from what who they've learned from and what they've experienced. So it's kind of like this issue of, oh, have I experienced enough to know enough.
[00:19:02.82] So I think that's where internships come into play. But they're kind of this fear of just, do I ever know enough to be a professional in this field? So it might be the opposite for some people.
[00:19:14.67] They might go in headset or headstrong on, oh, this is the one way to do things. I'm never changing. This is what's best. So that could be an issue for other people. But for me, it's more so just the fear of not knowing enough, and am I going to serve my athletes in the best way possible? So I think that's a problem.
[00:19:34.84] And then also just getting that experience in the first place. Finding those opportunities can sometimes be difficult because a lot of the internships, a lot of them are unpaid. So you're going somewhere, you're going for half a year, sometimes it's on top of a GA, which is nice.
[00:19:51.28] Sometimes it's not. So you have to find a way to house and pay for yourself aside from that. So at times, the education process can be a little bit daunting of am I going to have to put myself in a lot of debt the next few years just to survive and maybe still only be a mediocre strength coach?
[00:20:07.45] So there's some fears right there with financial security and concerns on if I'm competent enough in my field. But that kind of, it serves as a motivational factor, though, to continuously learn and be better, just always, be growing and learning.
[00:20:24.97] Yeah, there's definitely a financial layer to this, as you mentioned. And to circle back on your experience with NIL, what skills do you feel like you're gaining from putting yourself out there in this NIL world, kind of uncharted right now, you're really the first wave of student athlete going through it, that you think will help you as a performance coach, as a physical therapist, as a performance director in the future?
[00:20:59.23] Yeah, I definitely am seeing some parallels. It definitely is helping. I'm learning the importance of branding yourself. And now that's getting pushed even further with social media. You're your own brand on social media. But I'm realizing how important it is to have this cohesive image of yourself projected, so employers or athletes know who they're going to be working with.
[00:21:24.06] So it's really helping. I'm figuring out how to push out informational content, how to make myself-- how to join the athlete side of things and my educational side of things with my master's. So that definitely is helping. It also makes you step back and think sometimes how to be more professional and how you're conveying yourself.
[00:21:45.41] Because we're still young. I'm still 21. So there's this whole thing on social media. It's easy to be very unprofessional at times. And you realize that, even in college, that you have to be more professional in social media, which without the NIL stuff, it probably would not have got pushed as much you have to worry about what you're posting on social media.
[00:22:07.35] I mean, everyone always tells you to think about what you're posting. But until you see the direct consequences of your actions, then that doesn't really come to mind. So with branding, it definitely has made me step back think about my posts specifically. Or just how when someone comes on my page, what's their first glance. What is it going to tell them about me.
[00:22:29.50] And that will help in the long run, especially when I'm out of PT school, and I'm done with my masters, going for those first jobs. How am I portraying myself? So if someone does find my social media, what do they see?
[00:22:40.93] And then just helps me think about going forward, like, how do I want to change as a person? How do I want to portray myself? And that carries over into real life, not just social media, so.
[00:22:53.13] Lot of great takeaways there. And I think what you said, really, it resonates, even with coaches that are further along in their careers. We're a lot more outward facing as a profession, or even in physical therapy, you see this, as professions than we've ever been before.
[00:23:13.72] Maybe COVID had some role in that. We were all involved in putting herself on Zoom calls or virtual events or presenting. And podcasts, we're getting more comfortable putting ourselves out there in the public eye.
[00:23:29.18] Some coaches have done this for a really long time. So you think about those skills. The ability to present yourself in a professional way. That's something we care about at the NSCA but also public speaking ability. Ability to string a chain of thoughts together and make it meaningful and relevant for your audience, it's really valuable what you're saying.
[00:23:52.61] Not just as a student, and what you're realizing, is that it's really never too early to start learning these skills, as long as you do it in the right way, the responsible way, a safe way, as we've talked about. I loved what you mentioned before, your student athlete journey of opening up your perspectives.
[00:24:12.41] And it's OK that there are some fears associated with that. I think we don't use the word fear very much in the strength and conditioning world, but I had fears when I got into this. We all have things that maybe we're hesitant to take on that scare us. Finances are a big one. And your journey has really highlighted some of those aspects. So I appreciate you sharing.
[00:24:40.19] And we've mentioned your social media, your Instagram, partly because people might want to reach out, but also just so they can check out the content we're talking about. What's your Instagram handle, or how would you like people to reach out to you?
[00:24:53.73] So my Instagram is Hannah Nicole, but the Hannah, the second-- there's two A's before the last H, So it gets a little confusing. And then Nicole is spelled N-I-C-H-O-L-E, So not your normal spelling of Nicole.
[00:25:06.80] And if you guys also want to try and find me on LinkedIn, it's Hannah Burkhart. If you want to professionally connect, they'll be like a connection to East Tennessee State University, so that's how you'll be able to find that it's me. So you can reach out professionally on LinkedIn or follow me on Instagram. See what I'm posting. Reach out if anyone wants to collaborate.
[00:25:25.06] Yeah, we will tag you in the episode.
[00:25:30.31] Awesome.
[00:25:30.67] We will put that information into the show notes. And yeah, this has been really, valuable. A deep dive into name, image, likeness NIL from someone experiencing it right now. Really great for the podcast that you just got your CSCS, so just congratulations again. We're happy for you, and excited.
[00:25:51.99] Yeah, thank you.
[00:25:52.30] Yeah, excited to see where your career takes you.
[00:25:55.30] Yeah, very honored to be on the podcast. Speaking of professional skills, this is new to me. I've never been on a podcast. So it's a new learning experience. Something I'm glad to have experienced.
[00:26:07.12] Really great job. Thanks, everyone, for tuning in. That was Hannah Burkhart, East Tennessee State University track and field. Special thanks to Sorinex Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support.
[00:26:19.92] I'm Coach Boyd Epley. I'm known as the founder of the NSCA. And you just listened to an episode of The NSCA Coaching Podcast. To learn more about all the NSCA offers, check out nsca.com. And join us at an upcoming event this year. I hope to see you there.
[00:26:40.37] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.
[00:26:59.06] [MUSIC PLAYING]

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